SGA supports prioritizing future faculty raises

Jamie Williams

The Student Government Association passed a resolution in support of future raises in faculty salary at its meeting Tuesday night.

The resolution was authored to mimic a concurrent resolution that will be brought to faculty senate this Thursday. The resolution supports prioritizing a salary increase for the faculty over future construction or renovation projects.

“Considering that faculty and student relationships and morale in the classroom is essential to having an amazing college experience, I think it affects [students] as much as it affects [faculty],” Administrative Vice President Hannah Neeper said.

Neeper and Chief of Staff James Line proposed the resolution after faculty senate unanimously approved a concurrent resoultion. Neeper said the SGA resolution is meant to show that students, not just faculty, support salary increases.

In 2015, WKU ranked second-to-last in faculty salaries compared to its 19 other benchmark institutions, according to Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System statistics. These benchmark institutions are universities and colleges from across the nation of similar size to WKU.

Compared to its benchmark institutions, WKU has consistently dropped in every category from 2014 to 2016, including professor salaries, associate professor salaries and instructor salaries.

Neeper said current faculty salary not only negatively affects current faculty members, but could deter prospective faculty as well.

According to the Faculty Work Life Survey from 2014-15, 57 percent of faculty rated their morale as “poor” or “very poor.”

In 2012, WKU established the Challenging the Spirit Action Plan,  which aimed to increase full-time faculty salaries by 15 percent. Despite this goal, faculty salaries have dropped compared to benchmark medians.

Neeper clarified the resolution does not propose increasing faculty salaries even with the recent budget cuts. Instead, the resolution only suggests faculty salaries be shown priority over spending money on construction projects in the future.

“I think it’s fair, quite honestly,” Neeper said. “I don’t think it’s asking a lot.”

Senator Zach Jones said he was opposed to a similar resolution last semester, but was in support of this one since it didn’t affect the current budget.

“We do have an issue right now with a salary gap at our university, and that’s not knocking on any administrators, but maybe it’s time to put some emphasis on this as our next priority,” Jones said.

The resolution passed, 25-1-1.

Also at the meeting, President Jay Todd Richey announced the SGA was a winner of the Voice of Justice video contest. The contest, sponsored by Attorney General Andy Beshear, aimed to raise awareness of sexual assault on college campuses.

Executive Vice President Kate Hart thanked everyone who participated in the making of the video.

“It wouldn’t have been possible if we didn’t have everyone come out and help,” Hart said. “It’s great that we won.”

The SGA’s video won the viral award out of 16 submissions, meaning the organization will receive a $500 prize. The prize money will be given to the Counseling and Testing Center to help survivors of sexual assault. The executive cabinet is also looking to match the $500 to give the CTC more funds. 

The judicial council will also be tabling in the Downing Student Union during elections on April 17 and 18 to encourage students to vote. Students can vote at the council’s table and receive an “I voted” sticker afterward. 

The next SGA meeting will be Tuesday, April 18 at 5:00 p.m. in DSU.

Reporter Jamie Williams can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]